Tag Archives: Beijing

Dawn at silent hills

This is barely a road. That is why we call it the road least traveled. Trekking on East Asia’s prehistoric humans site, unremitting wind whispers an exclamation of silence at Zhou Kou Dian, 50 kilometers southwest of Beijing, China. Here are images during the trail to Peking Men Site.

Peking Man Site

Peking Men Site

For generations the locals named it Chicken Bone Hill or Dragon Bone Hill until Swedish archeologist Johann Gunnar Andersson discovered circa 1920s that the vast hilly terrains stored valuable evolutionary tracks dating back to Pleistocene era.

The archeological site bears fossils which belonged to prehistoric humans that once dwelled the cave system beneath the hills.

Peking Men cave
Homo erectus pekinensis cave-home

Here was once home to the 700,000 years old prehistoric society of Asia, homo erectus pekinensis, popularly called Peking Man. Thus the site is referred to as Peking Man Site.

But long before that, the way the locals had agreed to give the place such names suggested that their ancestors used the fossils as edible parts.

Historical literature accounted surrounding residents collected the fossil to be made soup.

In a culture that cultivates a veneration to dragon as a divinely creature, the locals consumed the fossils in a hope to gain strength and reach the state of divinity.

This caused a great loss to paleontologists all around the world, not to mention a sum of the remainings looted or destroyed during World War II.

Throughout the long period of excavation, multinational paleontologists had only managed to retrieve one complete set of bone fragments to construct a handful of skulls from the site. For all it is left with, UNESCO declares the area and the surrounding hills a world heritage site.

Statue at Peking Men Site
Peking Men Statue at Peking Men excavation site

National Center for the Performing Arts Beijing

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Most of the time, art is more of something to be appreciated by feelings rather than understanding. But in homogenous society, even among the well-educated, everything foreign tends to be a subject of study from a single perspective.

Beijing high society bragged about the spectacle of the country’s new wave of performing arts in Turandot, played in the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing two years after its inauguration. It is one of the most widely publicized Chinese operas in 2009, which is an adaptation of a masterpiece by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. It was met with positive reception. But it will take time before it is the public who commend, not the media.

Main hall 3

No city in the modern history of the world experienced such colossal transformation in a very short time the way Beijing had in the past decade. And few arts center had drawn such immense impact on social environment like the way NCPA had on urbanites in the capital city of China. It was not the only nouveau object approved by the authority in order to gain the world’s attention that had been frowned upon by its own citizens.

CCTV tower, dubbed the Big Pants, drew the same degree of criticism due to its peculiar shape. But what made NCPA so controversial to the locals was that it was built in the central area of power for the ruling regimes since many centuries ago. As if NCPA did not stop breaking the conventions in location only, the design was surely to make many Chinese scratch heads.

NCPA dome shape that gives a futuristic look makes a staggering contrast to the Soviet-style buildings that house many governmental institutions around the vicinity.

A number of people have begun this hate to love relationship with this building since the project was initiated in 2001. But apart from its appearance, NCPA still has to confront another issue, the shows.

Traditional Chinese operas and orchestra are still frequent programs as the two has enjoyed wide acceptance among Beijingers, but the introduction to foreign culture either through adaptation works like Turandot or imported shows, and more contemporary performance could take a longer process, as the Chinese society moves toward openness.